Top 10 Science Stories of 2012

For me, 2012 was the year of SCIENCE! The most exciting of all, the Higgs boson! The tears of excitement of Peter Higgs explained it all that moment.

Everyday is Doomsday for Girls in Delhi

Blaming the victim has been in some way also part of the larger design of the system, where women are pushed to say, they are responsible for what happens to them...

A World Without Sounds

'A Tree of Hope', A.drops says, is what these hearing impaired kids are working for. These kids draw small pieces of arts which will be hung in the 'tree of hope' for others to buy...

Does NASA Predict Blackout?

NASA hasn't predicted a blackout. And the reasons for the blackout mentioned in these fake messages are not just baseless, but extremely funny...

Friday, August 21, 2015

15 Reasons Why It Is Okay To Fail: Failure is just a human err

We all have at least one experience of failure in our life. From daily chores to the hefty inventions and discoveries, we all come across some kind of failure or defeat.
Yes, failure is painful. It is hard. It is embarrassing. No one can deny that having failed in something puts a scar in one's heart. And pain is not something anyone would like to have. From the very core of our hearts, we hate to fail. But why is that? It is because failing, in our society, is not acceptable. Not just the big failures, but even small failures are taken as a ‘big deal’. When a child ‘fails’ the examination, s/he is not encouraged in a positive way, but is constantly reminded that ‘failure is not acceptable’. But, is failing really that bad of a thing? Is it really not OKAY to fail? If you think that failing or failure is a bad thing and is really not acceptable, then think again, because I have got 15 reasons why failing is just fine.
  1. It’s a ‘human’ thing
We are all homo-sapiens or commonly known as ‘humans’. When we analyze human history, we come to realize that our history constitutes of more failures than successes. Our ancestors took more than million years to discover and take control of mere fire, which, now, seems a daily chore to us. During those million years, our ancestors must have failed a lot; how else did it take so many years? Hannah Bloch in an article in National Geographic writes “Failure … is the specter that hovers over every attempt at exploration.” Without failure to bite us in our back, humans would not be motivated to re-evaluate, re-think and re-organize their plans to further score the goal that s/he previously could not. Bloch says “… without the sting of failure to spur us to reassess and rethink, progress would be impossible.”
  1. It’s how we learn what does not work
“I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” It is a famous quote by Thomas Alva Edison, a famous American inventor and businessman, in response to a question by a reporter when he finally found success in his thousandth attempt to invent a light bulb. When it comes to not giving up even after many failure, we always have the example of Edison. In a failure, after knowing that we have failed, we can actually track the path we had taken and conclude that it is not the right one. This way, we would be able to take a different path so that we could further make an attempt to succeed, just like while solving a maze. Failure always helps us, even at the most dreadful of times, to think and act differently the next time we attempt. So when the next opportunity spurs, we will be able to be prepared beforehand.
  1. It's a motivation for success
When it comes to the topic of ‘failure’, the word ‘success’ always seems to lurk and stay right at the opposite corner of the room. You may wonder, "How could ‘failure’ be a motivating factor for 'success'?" While it is true that ‘failure’ and ‘success’ seem to be quite opposite to each other, you might be underestimating the power of ‘failure’. When a person fails at something, s/he definitely won’t be motivated to do anything further. But, if a person is on the right track and sees a ‘failure’ not as a ‘dead-end’, s/he can make things out of it. As I have mentioned earlier, failing at something only means that you have just found a way that won’t work to reach to the destination that you are thriving for. That means the possibility of you finding the right way is now narrowed down.
  1. It's a spot to re-think and change
So the thing is, when you fail, it does not necessarily mean that it is a ‘dead-end’. There are a lots of possibilities and opportunities when you come to the point of failure. Three years ago, before starting my Bachelor’s Degree, I was studying journalism and I really wanted to be a journalist. However, even after finishing my course, I could not land on any job or even on an internship. This failure made me rethink about my capability as a journalist and reporter. At that point, I really regretted studying journalism. But after some time, I found an opportunity for some social work where I had to work with children. This made me interested to understand the psychology of children and research on this topic. Thus, I joined psychology class and even aced the subject. This really made me think about the possibilities a failure can present to you.
  1. Food for our brain
Just a week ago, I was surfing the internet for ‘psychology of failing’, and what I found was really interesting. I stumbled upon an article from Psychology Today, where it talked about how your brain chemicals are responsible for the let-down feelings you feel after your failure. According to the article, when you acquire a big goal, your dopamine (a chemical in your brain) spikes too high and when you don’t acquire a goal something similar to that, you will feel bad as the rate of the produced dopamine gets low. So it means that, if you fail at something your brain produces less dopamine, and as soon as you acquire something, even if it is a small achievement, it can help your ‘happy chemicals’ to have their day. For example, at the time of failure, even a small appreciation or praise can increase the production of dopamine in you.  
  1. “If you are not failing, You are not growing”
Sara Blakely, maybe one of the youngest self-made billionaires, at an interview in the program Picking Yourself Up When You Fail on ABC News says that if you are not failing, you are not growing. She said in the interview that it was her father who taught her that. Every day at the dinner table, Blakely’s father used to ask her and her brother about their failures of the day. Because of this daily ritual, Blakely always thought of failure as not a ‘dead-end’ but always an opportunity to mature. According to her, she had had a lot of failures during her journey towards becoming a billionaire. When she first started her business of Spanx (a kind of body shaping clothing), many shops rejected her brand. She further emphasizes that those rejections and failures made her stronger to try even harder and think of the things that were wrong with her approach or tries.
  1. Failure is our life’s greatest teacher
Failure gives us the reality check of our limitations, obstacles and provides us with the realization of ‘wrong’ roads. It gives us an opportunity to re-think, re-evaluate and re-realize about the path we are taking and the destination we are marching for. It helps us learn. As a child, when we first learn to walk, we fall down a lot of times. Our legs fail us a lot. When our sense of language kick in, our tongue fail us. But, as we go through experiments and use the evolutionary instinct of trial and error, we finally learn to walk and to speak. It's not just about learning to walk and speak. Whatever we learn during our childhood, we mostly learn through trial and error.  We definitely use logic to decide and learn things when we grow up, but the instinct of trial and error is never going extinct. Trial and error is the way of life; we should learn to embrace it.
  1. Realizing our potential
Failure can bring about the realization of our potential. If a person found himself/herself to a point where he/she is not able to succeed in a field, it may just mean that he/she does not yet have the potential to ace the field. For example, I realized that I did not have enough quality to be a journalist when I failed to land on a job. If I had not failed and thus realized my incapability in journalism, I would not have found my potential in the field of psychology.
  1. Out of our comfort zone
In an article, Prof. Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor of Psychology at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says, “people who are too hung up on success can be so concerned about holding on to the positive results they have achieved that they never stretch themselves.” She further adds that people who have already reached a desired goal does not put effort to excel further. It makes us stick to our comfort zone. Failure in the other hand, gives us an opportunity to explore that possibility. A person who has reached to a point of failure can choose either to sit there and get engulfed in grief or to go explore his/her next possible potential. Failing at a thing does not make a person a loser; it just reminds him/her that something is lacking.
  1. It is better to ‘try and fail’ than to ‘leave and regret’
There are many times in our life where, when we look back at our past, we regret about things that we had done or had not done. However, the regret of not having done something is always going to hurt us more. A few years ago, my friend, an artist, met a guy in her college. She said that he had the personality and the quality which she had always adored. He was caring and intelligent and enthusiastic on her paintings. She really liked this guy; but she never really expressed her feelings to him in the fear that he would not accept them. But, when she looks back at her past now, she says that she should have at least told him about how she felt back then because no one knows what he would have said.
  1. Creativity
‘Thinking out of the box’ is what failure teaches us. The discovery of fire was accidental. After its discovery, people learned to use it in many ways; for light, cooking, security and many more. However, as its discovery was accidental, it was hard for humans to 'rediscover' it. They applied all possible ways they could and finally did succeed. But that's not the end of the story. As they found out that it's not that easy of a task to create fire, they discovered a new way to preserve it. They did not let it go off as far as practicable and possible. It was not until early 1800s that the ancestors of today’s match-sticks were invented. The way of starting a fire today is the product of an evolutionary process which went through many trials and errors. And who knows what is there in the future for the present-day matchsticks?
  1. Risk taking
Failing once encourages us to take risks and adventures. Prof. Dr. Whitbourne in her article writes, “The upshot is that success breeds conservatism and a tendency to hold on to what you’ve got. You then will be less likely to take advantage of some new opportunity that comes your way.” People who set their ground to have a comfort zone are less likely to take risks as they fear that they may lose to the adventure. This mentality may hinder their progress. However, people who have already had an experience of some kind of loss find it less risky to try something new as they don’t have anything to lose. “People who’ve experienced some type of loss might as well go for it (new opportunity) when a new venture presents itself”.
  1. Come out stronger in the next possible failure
When you walk a road for the first time, it will seem strange and you may feel a bit of a ‘lost’ sense. Yet, after a couple of times spent strolling around the road, you will find it familiar. So, the next time you go through the same road, you will be able to walk around it with much more confidence than before. It shows how the repetition of something can help achieve the confidence in us. It’s the same thing with failure as well. After stumbling upon a failure and overcoming its shortcomings, a person will be able to confront similar possible challenges. Furthermore, he/she may also obtain triumph against the possible failure.
  1. Perfectionism is the enemy of achievement
As I have already mentioned above, failure increases the tendency of risk-taking in us; conversely, success leads to low rate of risk-taking. Success can heighten a person’s sense of perfectionism. A student who aced a subject by preparing the written notes may fear to try something new in another examination.
My sister says that children are innocent and far from the shadow of perfectionism. During her experience as an art teacher, she found that children make marvelous art-pieces that even adults cannot make. She says it is because children take risks and try out new methods and techniques that adults are afraid even to attempt. According to her, perfectionism kills creativity while failure can bring a person out of the box.
  1. Everyone fails
Diana Nyad, a swimmer; it took her five tries to successfully swim from Cuba to Florida. Winston Churchill, a Nobel Prize winner and twice-elected Prime Minister of United Kingdom, failed in the sixth grade. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, was a Harvard University dropout. Walt Disney, founder of Walt Disney Production, was fired by a newspaper editor because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.
The list of successful people who failed in the beginning can go on and on. There is not a single person who dropped off the sky and landed on success. Not just individuals, in every explorations, experiments, inventions and discoveries of all times, humans have failed everywhere. Apollo 11 is one of the successful examples, which is the outcome of many failed attempts. It was the spaceflight which landed Neil Armstrong to the moon. It was NASA's fifth manned mission that safely landed on the moon.
We learn and broaden our mind from all the trials and errors of our life. As we fail, we learn; as we get lost in the maze, we find a new way to begin our search for right path again. We learn, we thrive for success, we prosper, and we grow. And it is all possible because of all the failures we come face to face with in our life. We all do fail; it’s a common human err; it’s a ‘human’ thing.

References
Bloch Hannah. (2013, September). Failure Is an Option: Where would we be without it? National Geographic. Retrieved from: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com
Breuning G Loretta. (2011, July 17). What a Let-Down: When your happy chemicals dip, your brain concocts failure. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com
Estrem Pauline. (2010, September 13). Why Failure Is Good for Success. Success. Retrieved from:https://www.success.com
Friedman Ron. If You’re Not Failing, You’re Not Growing. Retrieved from: https://99u.com
Fuentes Agustin. (2013, October 10). Failure Is Good: To err is human – lucky for us. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com
Wallis Lucy. (2014 March 3) , Is it good for people to fail occasionally? BBC News. Retrieved from:http://www.bbc.com
Whitbourne K. Susan, Ph.D. (2010, October 5). The Sweet Smell of Failure. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychology.com

- Nischala

Coward Me

Three incidents have made me feel like I'm just a hypocrite and coward; three incidents of exactly the same kind. The first incident is a bit old, probably a couple of years ago. I cannot exactly remember where I was returning from, but I was returning to my home and was waiting for a bus in the station. This group of college students had caught my eyes already because of their never-ending jabbering. And they had one thing that always catches my interest: bananas! They probably had 1-2 dozens of bananas with them. Some of them started to eat the bananas and I got even more excited. I was waiting for the right time; the time when one of them would finish eating a banana. Not surprisingly, some of them finished at once, and started throwing the banana peels right where they were, on the ground. My first reaction to that moment was dropping my jaw and constantly staring at them. They never saw me staring and my first reaction became my last reaction. I was too "coward" to do anything more.
The second one is a more recent one when I was walking along the roads of Tinkune, a couple of months ago. I was with one of my friends when two college girls walking ahead of us, this time younger, but seemed more "educated" – their dresses were of one of the top +2 colleges of the country – started opening noodles packet. No problem with that, until both of them dropped seasoning packets and started walking away. I'm sure if my HA friend, with whom I was walking, had taken my BP measurement at the very moment, it would have skyrocketed. I could feel fumes out of my both ears and my forehead turning red hot as in Tom & Jerry cartoons. I kicked the seasoning packets that they had dropped towards them. But it didn't matter, they did not notice. I did put the plastics into the drainage, but I was "coward" once again.
The third incident is even more recent one. I was walking (yeah, I do a lot of walking) on the streets of Kirtipur, my hometown, with the same HA friend. By this time, she knew what to expect from me when somebody throws litter on the streets. But this particular incident shocked even me. A car passed by, a beautiful car, green in color and heavily polished. It seemed as though the car belonged to one of the richest persons in Kirtipur (it's a developing town, virtually untouched by modernity of Kathmandu city; so, you wouldn't expect too many well-offs here). Suddenly, windowpane of the car window was lowered and from there, out of the window, the person inside dropped a banana peel. I literally stopped where I was for a moment, my jaw dropped. I cannot explain how I felt at that moment. I wasn't angry as I was when the two college girls dropped the seasoning packets. I wasn't annoyed as I was when the group of college students dropped banana peels right in front of me. The feeling is better described by the word 'pity'. I felt pity over the person inside the car; I felt pity over the other people walking there and pretending as if nothing happened; I felt pity over myself because I was also among them, unable to do anything, unable to change what was happening; I felt pity over our mindset.
Some people might actually call me hypocrite. I've never participated in a cleaning campaign. There was a time when 'Bagmati Cleaning Campaign' was at its peak. Every NGO was offering their hands to the campaign. Everybody was talking about it. Huge moral as well as physical support was evident from the hype seen in the social media about it. However, I was absolutely silent. Not only the Bagmati Cleaning Campaign, I have never participated in numerous cleaning campaigns in my own locality as well. When so many of my friends and relatives went for the campaigns, I just stayed home doing whatever pleased me. So everybody have right to judge me about being a hypocrite. But the truth is never so easily understood. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I'm not a social activist. I'm an individual. Yes, I want the mindset of the society - with regard to this particular issue - to change. But I don't want to be the one to change it. I just want to be the change itself. It has been ages that house-waste of my house stayed in house. The biodegradable waste is turned into compost, non-biodegradable waste is burned and we have a septic tank for bathroom waste. For burning non-biodegradable waste, we have a closed compartment so as to reduce the air pollution as far as practicable. As for the sewage from septic tank, we used to use it as fertilizer in our vegetable garden. But since we don't have one now, we haven't figured it out yet. And for the on-the-go wastes like plastic packs of junk foods, fruit peels, etc., there always is my bag as the temporary dustbin. I put everything in my bag. And when I get home, I do the usual categorization of the waste.
So, the question here is not about whether I participated in the cleaning campaigns or not. The question is about my contribution in dirtying the city. As far as the answer is zip, it would be my own 'cleaning campaign'. And then, the second and even deeper question is: is it enough? What could the proper management of waste of one person could possibly affect what is happening here? But I guess, that is the best I could do from where I am, considering what I would want to do with my life in the future. And moreover, as far as I feel, participating in cleaning campaign would be analogous to a story my mother used to recite when I was a child, in which a lady starts preparing roti for her husband and herself for lunch, but as she finishes preparing one roti, her husband finishes eating the one she had prepared just earlier and then another, and another, and so on, which results in the lady being the starved one. I'm definitely in moral support for all the cleaning campaigns being conducted anywhere but I don't want to sound more hypocrite by sharing them in social networking sites when in reality, I will never be participating in one.  
More than my reluctance in participating in a cleaning campaign, there is one thing that is holding me down: my inability to act when somebody litters right in front of me. I literally feel like being a coward when I fail to act. But again, what could one man possibly do? Right?

Akash

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why I Will Still Call My Dog an 'It'

A few weeks ago, I posted a question in yahoo answers asking for a help related to my dog. I called my dog 'it' and a few replies were pretty harsh because of that. Well, I've been hearing and reading a lot from animal rights activists about 'respecting' animals and not calling them 'it'. I even have some animal rights activists friends. But I never thought it was such a big issue so as it needed any response. I didn't have a dog and I did not have any situation in which I had to address any pet or any animal. But things changed and I had both.  

In a way, I felt 'insulted' because the replies were a bit harsh for me to 'tolerate'. I had ego and I was not letting it go. And to be fair, the harsh comments didn't change my perception even a bit. Instead, it strengthened it. Would I stop calling my dog 'it'? Definitely no.  

A question arises : what happens if I call my dog 'it'? The interesting point animal rights activists make is "because they have sex/gender and calling them 'it' is an insult to them". I have no idea if the animal rights activists know the meaning of 'insult'. When does someone feel being 'insulted'? It is when s/he is made 'feel' demeaning in comparison to either the person who is insulting or any other person. Now the question arises, 'Does a dog even 'feel' the 'insult'?' You don't need to be an Animal Behavior expert to know that they don't. No matter what word you use to address your pet or any other animal, it doesn't matter to them, they don't feel being insulted and so, it simply is not an 'insult'. They don't understand the meaning of the word you say but they respond to the tone of your voice. So, if you yell at it taking it's own name, like 'bulbul' in my dog's case, then it does feel that you're shouting and scolding it. But even if you call it 'it' with a lower tone, then it feels being loved. So, there is no any point in saying that it's an insult to your dog if you call it an 'it'. An insult is 'insult' only if the receiver feels it.  

Another question is, why don't I use a gender pronoun (he/she) for my dog? If they don't feel the difference between 'it' and 's/he', why don't I just use 's/he' for 'it'? The answer is simple: for the sake of traditional grammar. I'm a conventionalist when it comes to grammar. I like it classic. And I am not in good terms with the people who mess up with grammar. Some people, including my sisters, call me a 'Grammar Nazi'. And according to conventional English grammar, you call every animal, except humans, an 'it'. Even a human child is called an 'it'. I have no idea how this grammar came into existence - I mean, even a human child being called an 'it' - but it does make sense. It just differentiates between animals and humans (lets leave 'human child' alone for the moment). It doesn't mean we're comparing the animals with 'non living', 'inanimate', 'soulless' non-living things. Yeah, a different pronoun would have been better, but, c'mon, it doesn't make any difference.  

The conclusion is, as long as I don't treat my dog in any inhumane manner or put it into a refrigerator or toss it inside a washing machine, it doesn't make any difference in calling it an 'it' or 's/he'. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Cockroach Hunt!!! - Part I

It was in the year 2010, it was a Saturday and I was in my home, doing what I would usually do on a holiday, watching TV.  We just had lunch and my mother was brooming the kitchen. Suddenly, this small brownish-maroonish coloured object hit my foot. It looked like a small grain of raw red kidney beans (Rajma). So, I picked it up and took it to my mother. I thought it might have fallen while she was preparing lunch. On the way to kitchen, I looked at it more carefully. It looked different, not like any ordinary red kidney beans. When I reached where my mother was, suddenly, something crazy hit my mind, could it be???

Without speaking a single word to my mom, I went right back to my room and turned on my desktop and started typing on the Google page. The result shocked me! It was none other than a capsule containing eggs of a cockroach!!! I looked at the photos in the internet and the capsule that I held on my hand, compared all the attributes... and there it was, a live capsule containing cockroach eggs (ootheca) right on my palm-top! I went to my mother again and showed her the capsule, she got surprised as well. I flushed it down the toilet as soon as possible and went back to my computer for more research.


Maybe this was the spark that I needed to do some research on my own about the cockroaches. It had been long that we had been witnessing few cockroaches now and then in the kitchen and sometimes in our rooms. But only few of them were seen, so we didn't think it was alarming. I particularly thought, as there was an empty space with grass on one side of our home, so like any other insects, these roaches might have also entered through windows and if we throw them out, the problem will be solved once and for all. And I guess same was the case with rest of my family, because none of us took it as such a big issue in the house. I would have never in my life imagined that the case might have been any different. But as I started my research, the first thing I found out was about cockroach infestation. This one site sited that, cockroach are nocturnal insects, so it is very unlikely that we will notice them during day, but once we begin sighting cockroaches during day time, we can be sure that there is cockroach infestation in the house. I only knew about ant infestation. These small ants move all over the place following their long trails all the time once the infestation is there. But I had never thought about anything like 'cockroach infestation' was even possible. That is why, this survey began catching my attention. In our home, as soon as it was dark, all lights turned out and we - off to bed, these creepy crawlies were out to enjoy their night. These roaches were seen sometimes even before we went to bed. This is when I thought - we have to get control of it, before it turns out to be a greater problem.





Now my research got even intense. I started searching for facts about cockroaches and methods to get rid of them. Most of the internet pages cited that it is a very tough job, once your house is infested, to get rid of these creepy crawlies. There was even a quotation dedicated to these insects in a site which read out like this,‘I am a survivor, like a roach, you can’t get rid of me!’ Continuing my research, I found out some amazing facts about these roaches; the cockroaches have been on this earth since beginning of life on earth and even though many creatures have extinct but the roaches have not. Rather, it has developed greater resistance power and can even survive a nuclear war as they are radiation resistant than vertebrates and can even survive without air for 45 minutes. Roaches can even survive for a month without its head as it does not breathe through its nose or mouth but through spiracles. The only reason it dies after a month of head loss is just because of hunger. Unbelievable~! 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Innocence of a Child & a Caring Mother



He plays in the dirt with whatever he finds on the floor... for instance - a used ice-cream stick, which we, as adults, would have hardly put our hands on, let alone play with it. He gets on top of a seat kept in public space where some adults are already seated... some old, some young. He doesn't sit there still like those adults, he gets down, then again climbs up... throws his shoes around, as if he doesn't need them anymore! Care-free world of his! 

She picks up a used can and makes it her priceless car and drives it around in the dirt. If she finds any other child on her way... she straight away goes and joins what the other child is doing... smiles with the other child and speaks in their unique blabbers and sign language... unknown to the world of the adults. 

Children have their own way with children of their kind which we forget as we grow up to be adults. Who bothers, in the world today, about strangers, let alone join them in their random activities. Children are free from the adult world of differences... differences in people, differences in language, differences in ways of action. For them, every space is their playground... every child, adult or animal around them - their playmate... laughter, sign and innocent giggles - their form of language. They are still new to this world, yet they understand the secret of happiness far better than any adult around them.

But the irony! The child's own caring mother is the one restricting them from following their instincts... teaching them the ways of this new world...ways that we adults have adopted... taking them far from the actual paradise!

(Inspired by little children playing around at Basantapur, Kathmandu, Nepal) 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Promote safe use of drugs


Being a pharmacist by profession, when I introduced myself to the students I teach in high school that I have done B. Pharm then one of the students immediately asked me, “Sir! U have studied Bee Farming!!”

Astonished with his question I then explained them what pharmacy means and what we pharmacists do.

Now when they know about me, they sometimes ask me a bundles of questions regarding drugs. I slowly answer them out and solve their queries. They even request me to bring them medicines that are manufactured in the company I work. Yesterday a chubby boy out there asked me, "Sir! Is there a medicine that’ll make me slim?”

“Yes!” I replied “But it’ll have side effects too if u use it.”

“Side effects!! Will it make only one side of my body slim, sir??”

This is not only a problem of a school grade student but I think most of us are unaware of side effects or adverse drug reactions that the drug can cause. We only know that if we take drugs given by the doctor then we’ll get rid of the disease quickly but we are unaware that the same drug which cures our disease can also cause adverse drug reactions (ADRs).

ADRs are unwanted effects of a drug that are seen with the therapeutic dose of a drug. Almost every drugs are found to cause ADRs.  Sometimes patients make error in the administration of prescribed drugs. A common error I have even experienced in my home is the use of painkiller. My mother had a problem of knee pain. So she used to take painkillers frequently but she never made timings for the drug which finally made her the victim of ulcer. Later when I joined pharmacy, I came to know the proper use of all the medicines. I understood why my mother got ulcer problem. Actually, the mechanism of action of painkillers is to block prostaglandin synthesis, a pain generating agent in our body during any injury or inflammations, so that the pain is reduced. But the same prostaglandin is also a protective layer in our stomach that protects our gastric wall from corrosion of hydrochloric acid produced in stomach. So, the use of painkillers may reduce pain in our body but it also inhibits the protective prostaglandin in stomach resulting in damage of gastric wall leading to ulcer. In order to reduce such side effects, we should always remember to take pain killers only after meals as it reduces the chances of corrosions. Also, it is better to take an antacid (drug for gastritis that reduce hydrochloric acid) before meal when you are using a painkiller so that the hydrochloric acid, the corrosive agent, is also reduced thus preventing from corrosion. But again we should remember to take antacids only before meals because it may not show its effect if taken after meals.

Even the Paracetamol which is common to all and used by most of us even in a minor headaches, causes side effects. It may cause rashes in some individuals. On prolonged use or overdose of Paracetamol leads to liver and kidney damage. So, make sure you take Paracetamol as directed on the label or as instructed by a health professional. Unless instructed otherwise, do not take more than 4 doses of paracetamol within 24 hours. Paracetamol can also be associated with blood disorders, such as thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) and leukopenia (low number of white blood cells), but this is extremely rare.

There are some such drugs which result in drug dependence, i.e. the frequent use of such drugs makes a patient dependent to the drug without which the patient will have the feeling of being unwell. Mostly hypnotics (sleeping pills), anxiolytics (e.g. diazepam), morphine like drugs (codeine phosphate, heroin), amphetamines fall under this category.


These are some of the examples of predictable ADRs on which we can follow the preventive measures but there are many unpredictable ADRs of the drugs too. Always remember that it is extremely dangerous to take any pill that you are uncertain about or was not prescribed for you. People can also have different reactions to drugs due to the differences in each person’s body chemistry. A drug that is okay for one person could be very risky, even fatal, for someone else. Always remember, prescription drugs are only safe for the individuals who actually have the prescriptions for them and no one else. The details regarding unpredictable adverse drug reactions will be discussed in my next blog.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Feynman’s analogy of nature

Richard-FeynmanRichard Feynman needs no introduction in the world of science and especially in the world of physics. Though a theoretical physicist, he was a household name because of his amazing personality and sense of humor. I was extremely fascinated by his personality while I was studying physics in undergrad. And to honor this great talent, I present here one of the most interesting fact about nature that Feynman portrays. This is an excerpt from an interview of Feynman taken from a BBC Horizon documentary, named “Richard Feynman – No ordinary Genius”. And I’ve copied exact words he spoke. So, you would expect some grammatical anomalies in the sentences.

Here is what he speaks: 

In one way, it's fun analogy to try to get some idea of what we are doing and trying to understand the nature is to imagine that the GODs are playing some great game like chess. But you don't know the rules of the game. But you're allowed to look at the board from time to time. And from these observations to try to figure out what the rules are of the game, what are the rules to move the pieces of the game. You might discover after a bit, for example, that the bishop maintains its color. Later on you might discover that the rule for the bishop is to move in diagonal which should explain the law that you understood earlier that it maintains its color. And that would be analogous to discover one law and then later discover a deeper understanding of it.

Then, things can happen. Everything's going good. You've got all the laws; it looks very good. And then all of a sudden some strange phenomenon occurs in some corner. So, you'd be into discovering it. It's castling, something you didn't expect. We're always, by the way, in fundamental physics trying to investigate those things in which we don't understand the conclusions. We're not trying to check all the time our conclusions. The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that's the most interesting. Also, we could have revolutions in physics after you've noticed that the bishops maintain their color and move in diagonal and so on for such a long time and everybody knows that that's true.
chess Then you suddenly discover one day in a chess game that the bishop doesn't maintain its color, it changes its color. Only later that you discover the new possibility that the bishop is captured and the pawn goes all the way down to the queen zone to produce a new bishop. That could happen but you didn't know it. And so it's very analogous to the way our laws are that they sometimes look positive that they keep on working and all of a sudden a little gimmick shows that they're wrong and then we have to investigate the conditions under which this bishop change of color happen and so forth and gradually learn the new rule that explains it more deeply.

Unlike the chess game though, in the case of the chess game, the rules become more complicated as you go along. But in physics, when you discover new rules, it becomes simpler. It appears in the whole to be more complicated because we learn about a greater experience; that is we learn about more particles and new things and so the laws look complicated again. But if you realize all the time, what's kind of wonderful it has to be expand our experience into wilder and wilder regions of experience every once in a while we have this integrations in which everything is pulled together in a unification which it turns out to be simpler than it looked before.

The way I think of what we're doing is we're exploring, we're trying to find out as much as we can about the world. People say to me, 'Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?' No, I'm not. I'm just looking to find out more about the world. Then if it turns out there is a simple ultimate law that explains everything, so be it. That would be very nice discovery. If it turns out like an onion with millions of layers and we're just sick and tired of looking at the layers, then that's the way it is. But whatever way it comes out, its nature is there and she's going to come out the way she is. And therefore, when we go to investigate, we shouldn't pre-decide what it is we're trying to do except to find out more about it. The problem is why do you find out more about it? If you thought you're trying to find out more about it because you're going to get answer to some deep philosophical question, you may be wrong. It may be that you can't get an answer of that particular question by finding out more about the character of nature. But my interest in science is about the world and the more I find out, better it is.”

- Richard Feynman